Arts & Entertainment
1 min

Freda and Jem onstage

Playwright and actor talk about their upcoming play

Kathryn Haggis plays Jem, a butch lesbian in a struggling relationship. Credit: Tanja-Tiziana

It wasn’t until she started working with Lois Fine that Diane Flacks realized she is a femme.

“My wife and I have a running joke we’re a butchy femme in love with a femmey butch but will never know which is which,” Flacks says. “As a diploma-carrying butch, Lois says it’s hilarious to think I’m anything other than a femme. I guess we’ll have to come up with a new joke.”

Flacks will tap her inner girliness to play Freda, the femme half of a struggling lesbian couple in Fine’s play Freda and Jem’s Best of the Week. She and her butch, plumber partner Jem (Kathryn Haggis) are facing possible irreconcilable differences, but they also have two kids: Tee Jay (Stephen Joffe) and Sam (Sadie Epstein-Fine), played by Fine’s real-life daughter.

“It’s less about resolution than dissolution,” Fine says. “We’re not shying away from the devastating truths about breakups or how kids feel through it.”

As a queer mom of two kids herself, Flacks felt an immediate connection to the script.

“A lot of what the play has to say about relationships is really universal,” she says. “Whether you’re a lesbian, a gay man or straight, you understand those nasty fights, the moments that feel unsolvable, the sense of responsibility for the children. I was also caught by the fact it’s really a story from a butch perspective, which is refreshing and something we don’t hear enough of.”

“I don’t think we see this kind of character onstage that often,” Fine adds. “I’m not sure why, except that maybe the butch voice isn’t that well understood. I’m hoping Jem is able to come through as real and full, as someone who’s charming and vulnerable and also terribly, tragically flawed; not because she’s butch, but because she’s human.”